Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tulliallan property at Cranbourne

This is a history of the Tulliallan property, which is situated in Clyde Road in Cranbourne, although most of the newspaper articles I have found on the property say it is at Berwick and now the area is technically called Cranbourne North. It is  a property that has had many prominent or socially connected owners and a few name changes. The Tulliallan property is Lots 28,29 and 45 in the Parish of Cranbourne - south of Glasscocks Road (or Pound Road as that section of road was previously known)  and  a portion is either side of Clyde Road.


Here's a bit of a mud map of Tulliallan - the property was Lots 28,29 and 45 in the Parish of Cranbourne. Click on the map to enlarge it.

Tulliallan was part of the Garem Gam Run of 3,200 acres (1300 hectares) taken up by James Bathe and T.J Perry in 1837, although some sources say it was 1840 before they actually settled on the run.  In 1845 it was subdivided and the eastern part was called Ravenhurst  and the other section was Mayune. However by 1850 or 1851 it appears that the property was leased as a whole again by Benjamin Rossiter, Maurice Feehan and Sarah O’Shea. By 1854  Benjamin Rossiter owned Lot 28 (316 acres) and his sons Charles and Thomas own Lot 45 (80 acres) amongst other land. Joseph Henderson owed Lot 29, 316 acres.


This is from The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson (Cranbourne Shire, 1968) and you can see the location of Benjamin Rossiter's Station

Benjamin Rossiter (1786 - 1858) and his wife Zillah Baynton (1789 - 1871)  had arrived in the Western Port area in 1842, having come out from Somersetshire in 1841. Benjamin Rossiter called his property Ravenhurst and this is where he died in 1858. His sons, Charles and Thomas, also used the Ravenhurst name for their property and they became the owners of  Lot 28 after their father died.


The Argus January 30, 1858

Gunson  says that Charles (1820 to 1895)  lived at Ravenhurst  until 1873 when he moved to Hawksdale at Yallock. However, the Rate Books have Thomas Rossiter owning Lots 28 and 45 until 1875, when the land was sold to William Palmer, so he obviously stayed a bit longer.    Charles married Ellen O’Shea in 1854 - she is from the family that gave the name to O’Sheas Road.  They had eight children.   Charles was an original Committee member of the Mornington Farmers Society from 1856, a  Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1869 to 1884 and Shire President on four occasions. Charles Rossiter bred draught horses and also agitated for the first school in the Yallock/ Koo-Wee-Rup area and he  is the source of the name Rossiter Road in Koo-Wee-Rup.

The Rossiter family married into other local families - Charles and Thomas’ sister, Mercy Rossiter (1823 - 1903)  married Henry Wedge (of the family that gave Wedge Road its name) Thomas Rossiter (1831-1907)  died in Parkes in New South Wales where he was living at the time. Thomas was also involved in the Mornington Famers Society in the early years. The Society held its first show at Cranbourne in 1857and from 1860 alternated between Cranbourne and Berwick however by the late 1880s the show was held only at Berwick.

The Rossiters sold out to William Palmer in 1875 (according to the Shire of Cranbourne Rate Books) and around 1881/1882 Lots 28 and 45 were purchased by the grandly named Stratford Strettle. By 1885 he also owns Lot 29 so this brings the two parcels of land that eventually make up Tulliallan together. Strettle called the property Gladys Park.  Stratford Abraham  Strettle was an Auctioneer and it was his firm that handled the sale of Palmers land in 1882, so it looks like he purchased it for himself.

The Age July 26, 1882

There was a clearing sale at the property in December 1886 due to Stratford Strettle leaving the property and after this the property is leased to various tenants.   This may have been prompted by the death of Stratford’s brother, William, who accidentally shot himself dead at the house in July 1885. You can read an account of the inquest in the Weekly Times here.  Mr Strettle was apparently a generous host and you can read one account of his Christmas Festivities here.   There are reports of a legal case involving money owed by Strettle to a Miss Virginia Block. You can read about it here

In 1904, Mrs James Gibb purchases Gladys Park from Stratford Strettle  and by 1910 the Rate books list James Gibbs as the owner. The Hon James Gibb (1843 - 1919) and his brother Robert were the sons of Alexander Gibb of Campbellfield. James was the M.L.A for Mornington from 1880 to 1886 and also owned Melville Park (now Edrington in Berwick, the former home of Lord and Lady Casey) Gibbs was also a draught horse breeder and described as one of the most enterprising farmers in the State - a champion ploughman, gentleman an politician.   He was a Shire of Berwick Councillor for 30 years and the Federal Member for Flinders from 1903 to 1906.  His obituary in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of March 6, 1919 said that he could claim the credit for tree planting which made Berwick one of the most charming townships in southern Victoria. 

Robert Gibb farmed for his brother, and was also involved with the Mornington Farmers Society and a local Magistrate.  He and his wife moved to Oakleigh in 1914 and he died in 1923.

The next owner of the property was Jessie Halbert. I don't know anything about this person, they held the property for under two years and a  Joseph Halbert had part of the St Germains Estate at Clyde at the same time. Are they Joseph and Jessie Halbert, the parents of Jessie Mary Vasey who was the founder of the War Widows Guild of Australia and was instrumental in getting an increase in the War Widows pension by linking it to the rate of the basic wage?  It's an interesting connection, if this was the case,  and you can read more about Jessie Vasey in the Australian Dictionary of Biography here.

In 1913, Jessie Halbert sells to Lieutenant George Anderson Mitchell and it  was Mitchell who named the property Tulliallan. The Rate Books list George Mitchell owning  the property form 1913 to 1919. I am fairly certain that George is the son of Captain James Mitchell and Elizabeth (nee Anderson) of Tulliallan, Williamstown and thus when he purchased his farm in 1913 he named it Tulliallan after his family home. Captain James Mitchell was a Master Mariner, joined the Port Phillip Sea Pilots, one of the founders of the Victorian Stevedoring Co. Association and one obituary says that he was on the Committee which chose the design for the Commonwealth flag. He died in 1927 and there are advertisements in the paper for the sale of his house Tulliallan at Williamstown.  As a matter of interest one of the pall bearers at his funeral was Jules Commans who owned 540 hectares on both the north and south side of Heatherton Road in what is now called Endeavour Hills.

There are various mentions in papers on Trove which connect Lieutenant George  Mitchell to Captain James Mitchell. The family appear to have been well connected and there are references in the social pages of various Melbourne papers to the engagement and weddings of the children of James and Elizabeth Mitchell.

Lieutenant Mitchell enlisted at the age of 24 on July 15, 1915. He was a 2nd Lieutenant and his next of kin was his wife, Mary Ione Mitchell. He was discharged in October 1916 as he had a ‘Commission in the Imperial Army’ and he later joined the Royal Air Force.  He obviously sold the property on his return after the war, and is listed in the Electoral Roll  as a broker and living in Melbourne. In the 1950s George and Mary were living at Ardleigh in Emerald. George died in 1965.


Advertisement for the sale of Tulliallan from The Age February 15 1919

Lieutenant Mitchell sold 'his most charming country home together with 743 acres of land' to Frederick Charles Curtis. The house was described as a very nice homestead, in splendid order, of 12 rooms with large billiard room, large dining room, large reception room and four large bedrooms. Hot and cold water laid on with a splendid service and the homestead is sewered. The outbuildings consist of detached kitchen, 2 pantries, 2 maids rooms, servants quarters, mens rooms........there is  a nice drive of English trees from the main road to the homestead and it is laid out with  a very nice lawn and summer house and has one of the best  gardens to be found in any country home of its size  near Melbourne. The building is listed on the City of Casey Heritage Study and you can access the citation here.

Frederick Curtis was Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1925 to 1928.  I don’t know much about him, his wife, whom he married in 1905, was Florence Maud Crabtree and his occupation in the Electoral Rolls  was listed as grazier. Some of the activities of the family were reported in the social columns of the Melbourne papers including, in 1927,  a ‘coming of age  for their only daughter Gwennyth and a 21st celebration of their eldest son Keith’ - the headline was ‘a jolly evening at Berwick.’ Amongst the guests were local names such Greaves, Brunt, Whiteside, Loveridge.  In 1932 it was reported in the Dandenong Journal that Mr Curtis had purchased Oakdene in Langhorne Street, Dandneong. According to the Electoral Roll, Keith stayed at Tulliallan until the property was sold in 1938.


Table Talk March 31 1927

In 1938, Faris Addison Palfreyman purchased Tulllian; he was a English Leicester and Romney Marsh sheep breeder. When the property was sold by Palfreyman in November 1946, the purchase price included the entire stock of stud sheep and Aberdeen Angus cattle valued at £8000. Palfreyman then moved to Queensland.  In May 1926, Faris Palfreyman was the best man at the wedding of Beatrice Fischer to Arthur Long - Beatrice was the granddaughter of Jules Commans, who as we found out before, was a colleague and pall bearer at the funeral of Captain James Mitchell, whose son George was a previous owner of Tulliallan. You can read all about this fashionable wedding at St Johns Church in Toorak in the Table Talk newspaper here. Is this a coincidence that Faris later became an owner of the Tulliallan property or was he already familiar with Tulliallan when he purchased the property as it appears he moved in the same social circles as the Mitchells?  Faris deid in 1983 at the age of 80.

In 1946,  James McKenzie  Elder purchased Tulliallan. I don’t have much information on him, however he married Nancy Russell Barrett in 1929 and he was the son of prominent business man, Sir James Alexander Elder and Margaret Blyth Nicoll - you can read about Sir James in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, here. The family also had their social activities reported in the social columns of the Melbourne papers - in March 1953 there was a report of a dance at Tulliallan where ‘guests sat on hay bales at open fires and danced in the sylvan setting at an outdoor party’  Susan Curtis, James’ daughter, hosted the party. Amongst the guests were some visitors from the Western District and some members of the socially prominent Chirnside family. Susan’s marriage to Geoffrey Haggard, son of the late Commander Geoffrey Haggard, R.N was the subject of a report and  a photograph in The Argus in November 1953. In December 1954 a dinner dance was held at Tulliallan for 150 people in honour of Ian Elder, Susan’s brother.


The Argus March 2 1953


James and Nancy Elder were still at Tulliallan in 1972, according to the Electoral rolls and James died in 1978 aged 76 and Nancy in 1974, aged 70. We will leave  this history of Tulliallan owners with the Elders, but as you can see it has had many interesting at at times socially prominent and well connected owners.

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